Recent Publications

The Fourth Wave: Violence, Gender, Culture & HIV in the 21st Century

Edited by Jennifer Klot and Vinh-Kim Nguyen
UNESCO/Social Science Research Council, 2011

In the third decade of the HIV and AIDS epidemic, women and particularly young women and girls have become a growing proportion of those affected and infected. What are the reasons for this growing “feminization” of the HIV and AIDS epidemic? Moreover, how and why is the response to the epidemic failing women? The articles and commentary in this book and online forum address the above questions with a particular focus on deeply rooted social, cultural and economic factors that are driving the epidemic. The authors especially interrogate the epistemological frameworks that are currently used to understand the epidemic and examine how these extant frameworks might be inadequate in capturing many gender-related dynamics.

The Possible Futures Book Series

Series Editor: Craig Calhoun
New York University Press / Social Science Research Council

The Possible Futures series gathers together leading social scientists to address the significance of the global economic crisis in a series of short, accessible books. The first three volumes take on the past, present, and future of this crisis, suggesting that it has an informative history, that the consequences could be much more basic than stock market declines, and that only fundamental changes—not fiscal band-aids—can head off future repetitions.

CONTRIBUTORS INCLUDE: Immanuel Wallerstein, David Harvey, Saskia Sassen, James Kenneth Galbraith, Manuel Castells, Nancy Fraser, Rogers Brubaker, David Held, Mary Kaldor, Vadim Volkov, Giovanni Arrighi, Beverly Silver, and Fernando Coronil.

Volume I, Business As Usual

Edited by Craig Calhoun and Georgi Derluguian, 2011

Much more basic than the result of a few financial traders cheating the system, Business As Usual shows how the current financial crisis was made possible by both neoliberal financial reforms and a massive turning away from manufacturing things of value to make profits from trading financial assets. In original essays, the contributors establish how the Great Recession is related to crises of the past and yet why this meltdown was different. The volume concludes by asking whether the crisis—despite its severity—contains seeds of a new global economy, what role the United States will play, and whether China or other countries will rise to global leadership.

Volume II, The Deepening Crisis

Edited by Craig Calhoun and Georgi Derluguian, 2011

Response to financial meltdown is entangled with basic challenges to global governance. Environment, global security, ethnicity, and nationalism are all global issues today. Focusing on the political and social dimensions of the global financial crisis, contributors examine changes in relationships between the world’s richer and poorer countries, efforts to strengthen global institutions, and difficulties facing states trying to create stability for their citizens.

Volume III, Aftermath

Edited by Craig Calhoun and Georgi Derluguian, 2011

The global financial crisis revealed deep problems with mainstream economic predictions, as well as the vulnerability of the world’s richest countries and the enormous potential of some poorer ones. China, India, Brazil, and other countries are growing faster than Europe or America and have weathered the crisis better. Is their growth due to following conventional economic guidelines or to strong state leadership and sometimes protectionism? These issues are basic to the question of which countries will grow in coming decades, as well as to the likely conflicts over global trade policy, currency standards, and economic cooperation.


Russia: The Challenges of Transformation

Edited by Piotr Dutkiewicz and Dmitri Trenin, 2011
Foreword by Craig Calhoun

In Russia, a group of leading Russian intellectuals and social scientists join with top researchers from around the world to examine the social, political, and economic transformation in Russia. This timely and important book of original essays makes clear that neither politics nor economics alone holds the key to Russia’s future, presenting critical perspectives on challenges facing Russia, both in its domestic policies and in its international relations. It also explores how global order—or disorder—may develop over the coming decades.

Media Piracy in Emerging Economies

Edited by Joe Karaganis
Social Science Research Council, 2011

Media Piracy in Emerging Economies is the first independent, large-scale study of music, film, and software piracy in emerging economies, with a focus on Brazil, India, Russia, South Africa, Mexico, and Bolivia.

Based on three years of work by some thirty-five researchers, Media Piracy in Emerging Economies tells two overarching stories: one tracing the explosive growth of piracy as digital technologies became cheap and ubiquitous around the world and another following the growth of industry lobbies that have reshaped laws and law enforcement around copyright protection. The report argues that these efforts have largely failed and that the problem of piracy is better conceived as a failure of affordable access to media in legal markets.

The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere

Edited by Jonathan VanAntwerpen and Eduardo Mendieta
Columbia University Press, 2011

The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere represents a rare opportunity to experience a diverse group of preeminent philosophers confronting one pervasive contemporary concern: what role does—or should—religion play in our public lives? Reflecting on her recent work concerning state violence in Israel-Palestine, Judith Butler explores the potential of religious perspectives for renewing cultural and political criticism, while Jürgen Habermas, best known for his seminal conception of the public sphere, thinks through the ambiguous legacy of the concept of “the political” in contemporary theory. Charles Taylor argues for a radical redefinition of secularism, and Cornel West defends civil disobedience and emancipatory theology. Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen detail the immense contribution of these philosophers to contemporary social and political theory, and an afterword by Craig Calhoun places these attempts to reconceive the significance of both religion and the secular in the context of contemporary national and international politics.

The essays comprising this volume include Habermas’s “The Political: The Rational Meaning of a Questionable Inheritance of Political Theology,” Taylor’s “Why We Need a Radical Redefinition of Secularism,” Butler’s “Is Judaism Zionism?” and West’s “Prophetic Religion and the Future of Capitalist Civilization.” Each chapter was originally presented as a talk at a recent symposium co-hosted by the SSRC, the Institute for Public Knowledge at New York University, and the Humanities Institute at SUNY Stony Brook.

The Power of Religion in the Public Sphere, edited and introduced by Eduardo Mendieta and Jonathan VanAntwerpen, and with an afterword by Craig Calhoun, is available from Columbia University Press.

Academically Adrift: Limited Learning on College Campuses

Academically Adrift CoverBy Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa
University of Chicago Press, 2011

In spite of soaring tuition costs, more and more students go to college every year. A bachelor’s degree is now required for entry into a growing number of professions. And some parents begin planning for the expense of sending their kids to college when they’re born. Almost everyone strives to go, but almost no one asks the fundamental question posed by Academically Adrift: are undergraduates really learning anything once they get there?

For a large proportion of students, Richard Arum and Josipa Roksa’s answer to that question is a definitive no. Their extensive research draws on survey responses, transcript data, and, for the first time, the state-of-the-art Collegiate Learning Assessment, a standardized test administered to students in their first semester and then again at the end of their second year. According to their analysis of more than 2,300 undergraduates at twenty-four institutions, 45 percent of these students demonstrate no significant improvement in a range of skills—including critical thinking, complex reasoning, and writing—during their first two years of college. As troubling as their findings are, Arum and Roksa argue that for many faculty and administrators they will come as no surprise—instead, they are the expected result of a student body distracted by socializing or working and an institutional culture that puts undergraduate learning close to the bottom of the priority list.

Academically Adrift holds sobering lessons for students, faculty, administrators, policy makers, and parents—all of whom are implicated in promoting or at least ignoring contemporary campus culture. Higher education faces crises on a number of fronts, but Arum and Roksa’s report that colleges are failing at their most basic mission will demand the attention of us all.

Richard Arum is director of the SSRC Education Research Program.

A Portrait of California

A Portrait of California CoverBy Sarah Burd-Sharps and Kristen Lewis
Social Science Research Council, 2011

A Portrait of California goes beyond the state’s fiscal and budgetary woes to examine the well-being of its people using the American Human Development Index, a measure based on official government data in health, education, and living standards. This timely report introduces the ‘Five Californias’ to highlight the varied opportunities open to differing segments of the population, and provides close-up snapshots of major metro areas. The report also ranks native-born and foreign-born residents for each major ethnic group, as well as all 233 Census neighborhoods in the state. The report concludes with recommendations aligned with current fiscal realities for protecting and building upon human development successes already in place.

A few facts:

  • Asian American women in California can expect to live up to 88.6 years, over 18 years longer than African American men.
  • A gap of $58,000 in median personal earnings separate the top earners in the Santa Clara–Cupertino, Saratoga, Los Gatos area (about $73,000) from the lowest earners in the LA–East Adams–Exposition Park area (about $15,000)—a gap double the median personal earnings for the country as a whole.
  • Just 100 of California’s nearly 2,500 high schools account for nearly half of the state’s dropouts.
  • California’s Latina women earn the least, at $18,000—earnings on par with those of the typical American worker in 1960, half a century ago.

A Portrait of California highlights actions that Californians can take to lock in human development successes today while setting the stage for significant budget savings and improved well-being tomorrow. These include investing in public health campaigns and food subsidies for fruits and vegetables; investing in preschool and targeting the worst performing high schools with the highest dropout rates; and taking steps to address gender equality and wage discrimination in the workplace.

The Measure of America 2010-2011: Mapping Risks and Resilience

MOA2 CoverBy Kristen Lewis and Sarah Burd-Sharps
NYU Press/SSRC, 2011

  • Whites in Washington, DC, live, on average, twelve years longer than African Americans in the same city.
  • In the 2007–9 Great Recession, college graduates faced an un- and underemployment rate of 1 in 10; the rate for high school dropouts was greater than 1 in 3.
  • In no U.S. states do African Americans, Latinos, or Native Americans earn more than Asian Americans or whites.

These startling facts are just some of the issues covered in The Measure of America 2010-2011. With a foreword by Jeffrey D. Sachs, the second volume in The Measure of America series is an easy-to-understand guide to where different groups stand today, and why. The book contains American Human Development Index ranking for all 50 states, 435 congressional districts, major metropolitan areas, racial and ethnic groups, as well as men and women. It concludes with a set of recommendations for priority actions required to improve scores on the Index across the board and to close the stark gaps that separate groups.

The Measure of America 2010-2011 also shines a spotlight on risks to progress and opportunity, and identifies tested approaches to fostering resilience among different groups: Who is most at risk for obesity? How can workers secure better footholds in the job market? How important is early childhood education? This report provides the tools necessary to build upon past policy successes, protect the progress made over the last half century from emerging risks, and develop an infrastructure of opportunity that can serve a new generation of Americans.

Publics, Politics and Participation: Locating the Public Sphere in the Middle East and North Africa

Publics, Politics and Participation CoverEdited by Seteney Shami
Social Science Research Council, 2009

Scholarship on the Middle East and North Africa almost always engages with politics, yet the assumed absence of public spaces and fora has led many to think that debate, consensus, and concerted social action are antithetical to the heritage of the region. Publics, Politics and Participation demonstrates not only the critical importance of the public for the Middle East and North Africa, but how the term and notion of the public sphere can be used productively to advance understandings of collective life and, moreover, how conflict and resistance are generative forces in public discourse.

The chapters in this volume represent some of the outstanding results of a five-year project organized by the Social Science Research Council and funded by the Ford Foundation, entitled “Reconceptualizing Public Spheres in the Middle East and North Africa.”

Seteney Shami is director of the program on the Middle East and North Africa at the Social Science Research Council.

Obama’s Bank: Financing a Durable New Deal

Obama's Bank coverBy Michael Likosky
Cambridge University Press, 2010

The Obama administration aims to lay a sound foundation for growth by investing in high-speed rail, clean energy, information technology, drinking water, and other vital infrastructures. The idea is to partner with the private sector to produce these public goods. An Obama government bank will direct these investments, making project decisions based on the merits of each project, not on politics. This approach has been a cornerstone of US foreign policy for several decades. In fact, our government-led reinvestment in America is modeled explicitly on international public banks and partnerships. However, although this foreign commercial policy is well-established with many successes, it has also been deservedly controversial and divisive. This book describes the international experience, drawing lessons on how the Obama Bank can forge partnerships to promote a durable twenty-first-century New Deal.

Robert K. Merton: Sociology of Science and Sociology as Science

Robert K. Merton: Sociology of Science and Sociology as ScienceEdited by Craig Calhoun
Columbia University Press/SSRC, 2010

Robert K. Merton (1910-2003) was one of the most influential sociologists of the twentieth century, producing clear theories and innovative research that continue to shape multiple disciplines. Merton’s reach can be felt in the study of social structure, social psychology, deviance, professions, organizations, culture, and science. Yet for all his fame, Merton is only partially understood. He is treated by scholars as a functional analyst, when in truth his contributions transcend paradigm.

Gathering together twelve major sociologists, SSRC President Craig Calhoun launches a thorough reconsideration of Merton’s achievements and inspires a renewed engagement with sociological theory. Merton’s work addressed the challenges of integrating research and theory. It connected different fields of empirical research and spoke to the importance of overcoming divisions between allegedly pure and applied sociology. By bringing together different aspects of Merton’s work in one volume, Calhoun illuminates the interdisciplinary—and unifying—dimensions of Merton’s approach, while also advancing the intellectual agenda of an increasingly vital area of study.

Disaster and the Politics of Intervention

Disaster and Politics of Intervention coverEdited by Andrew Lakoff
Columbia University Press/SSRC, 2010

Government plays a critical role in mitigating individual and collective vulnerability to disaster. Through measures such as disaster relief, infrastructure development, and environmental regulation, public policy is central to making societies more resilient. However, the recent drive to replace public institutions with market mechanisms has challenged governmental efforts to manage collective risk. The contributors to this volume analyze the respective roles of the public and private sectors in the management of catastrophic risk. These essays point to the way thoughtful policy intervention can improve our capacity to withstand catastrophic events.

Andrew Lakoff is associate professor of anthropology, sociology and communication at the University of Southern California. He is the author of Pharmaceutical Reason: Knowledge and Value in Global Psychiatry, and coeditor, with Stephen J. Collier, of Biosecurity Interventions: Global Health and Security in Question. His current research concerns the intersection between global health and national security in the development of approaches to new biological and environmental threats.

Remembering Communism: Genres of Representation

Remembering Communism coverEdited by Maria Todorova
SSRC Books, 2010

Remembering Communism apprehends the transformation of an “objective” reality into a subjective one. Concentrating on genres of representation in Bulgaria, Croatia, Germany, Hungary, Lithuania, Russia, Serbia, Slovenia, and Ukraine, the collection traces explanatory modes and models following the collapse of “real socialism.” Oral histories are taken at different sites and among diverse groups, including factory workers, village inhabitants, and political émigrés. Subsequent sections reassess the period through archives, memoirs, cinema, and monuments.

Maria Todorova is Gutgsell Professor of History at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She is the author, most recently, of Bones of Contention: The Living Archive of Vasil Levski and the Making of Bulgaria’s National Hero and Balkan Identities: Nation and Memory.

HIV/AIDS, security and conflict: making the connections

Helmet Day coveredited by Pamela Delargy, Jennifer Klot and Dana Huber

A 32-page FMR special supplement on ‘HIV/AIDS, security and conflict: making the connections’, produced in collaboration with UNAIDS, UNFPA and the Social Science Research Council (SSRC), is now online at

The AIDS, Security and Conflict Initiative (ASCI) undertook research to examine the connections between conflict and HIV/AIDS to gather evidence and to advance analysis. This FMR special supplement presents a selection of ASCI case-studies alongside a number of other articles on the subject written by practitioners, policy makers and scholars. Pam Delargy of UNFPA and Jennifer Klot and Dana Huber of SSRC were Guest Editors for this special supplement. SSRC and UNAIDS funded its production and dissemination.

Helmet Day: Lessons Learned on Vietnam’s Road to Healthy Behavior

Helmet Day coverBy Mary McDonnell, Nina McCoy, and Van Tran

When the American War ended in 1975, the Vietnamese began the difficult task of reuniting their nation. The Doi Moi reform process launched in 1986 has led to rapid urbanization and socio-economic development. By the mid 1990s, Vietnam’s economy was booming, with most people switching with staggering speed from bicycle to motorcycle use. In urban areas, automobile numbers also burgeoned in response to economic growth. Vietnam seemed to be making a change to motorized vehicles more rapidly than any other country in the world.

With motorization came traffic incidents, and with traffic incidents came preventable motorcycle injuries and deaths. The need to change behavior – to somehow get Vietnamese of all ages to wear motorcycle helmets – was clear.

Motorcycle helmets became mandatory in Vietnam on December 15, 2007. When residents and visitors stepped outside that Saturday, they faced a beautiful, colorful sea of helmets on the heads of the adults and children riding by.

HIV/AIDS, Security and Conflict: New Realities, New Responses

ASCI New Realities, New Responses CoverBy Alex de Waal, Jennifer F. Klot, Manjari Mahajan, with Dana Huber, Georg Frerks and Souleymane M’Boup

SSRC/Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael, 2010

This report advances a new agenda for action across the security, humanitarian, human rights, health, and development arenas. Research findings from the three-year AIDS, Security and Conflict Initiative (ASCI) challenge accepted wisdom about the threats posed by HIV and AIDS for peace and security. ASCI provides new evidence to inform policies addressing the impact of HIV and AIDS on (1) the operational capacity of armies and uniformed services; (2) humanitarian crises and post-conflict transitions;(3) fragile states; and (4) women and gender relations. ASCI’s groundbreaking gender analysis exposes a number of flawed assumptions that have guided epidemiological and behavioral approaches to HIV and AIDS prevention and response both within and outside conflict situations. ASCI is a joint project of the Social Science Research Council (New York) and the Netherlands Institute of International Relations Clingendael (The Hague).

Broadband Adoption in Low-Income Communities

Broadband report coverBy Dharma Dailey, Amelia Bryne, Alison Powell, Joe Karaganis,
and Jaewon Chung

On March 2, 2010, the SSRC released an FCC-commissioned report titled “Broadband Adoption in Low-Income Communities.” The report, which analyzes the factors shaping low rates of adoption of home broadband services in low-income and other marginalized communities, was formally released on March 2, 2010 at the American Library Association.

A Century Apart: New Report on Human Development

A Century Apart coverBy Kristen Lewis and Sarah Burd-Sharps

The American Human Development Project has released a new report called “A Century Apart,” with data on well-being for U.S. racial and ethnic groups. The report has received attention from David Brooks, J. Bradford DeLong, Matt Yglesias, National Review, The Confluence, Wall Street Journal and others. See also the response of the SSRC’s Kristen Lewis & Sarah Burd-Sharps to Brooks in the NY Times.